English Premiership

Man City within sight of title

2012-05-06 16:35
Yaya Toure (AP)

Newcastle - Manchester City are on the verge of winning the Premier League title for the first time in 44 years after Yaya Toure's brilliant double clinched a crucial 2-0 win at Newcastle on Sunday.

Ivory Coast midfielder Toure struck twice in the second half at St James' Park to move Premier League leaders City three points clear of second-placed Manchester United, who face Swansea at Old Trafford later on Sunday.

Roberto Mancini's men now know that they will be champions for the first time since 1968 if they win their remaining game at home to Queens Park Rangers next Sunday, unless United can somehow bridge City's plus-10 advantage over their local rivals in the goal difference column.

By coincidence, City's 1968 title triumph was confirmed by a 4-3 victory at Newcastle and the reaction of their supporters on the final whistle suggested they have already anointed Mancini's team as the new champions.

Toure's goals also had significance for Newcastle, who began this game with an eye on a place in next season's Champions League - and even a top-three finish - in the wake of Arsenal's failure to beat Norwich.

Now, facing an awkward final game at Everton, Alan Pardew's team may have to be content with a place in the Europa League.

City certainly warranted their success, but they were far from fluent as Newcastle frustrated them for long periods and looked equipped to emerge with a point until Toure's crucial contributions.

With so much at stake for both teams, it was never likely to be a classic encounter, but it was a passionate, highly-charged affair after a slow start.

That early caution was swept away, though, by the mobility and attacking instincts of David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri.

All contributed to a ten-minute spell when City could have taken the lead on three occasions, starting with Silva's angled shot that was saved by Tim Krul in the 11th minute.

The Dutch goalkeeper was equally alert when he dealt with Aguero's effort six minutes later before he was rescued by Mike Williamson after the striker beat him to Vincent Kompany's through ball.

Newcastle finally threatened when Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa combined to create an opening which Ba drove over the bar from 25 yards.

Then, with 34 minutes gone, Newcastle carved out their best opportunity of the opening half after Jonas Gutierrez seized on a rare mistake by Pablo Zabaleta.

The Argentina international's cross created uncertainty in the City defence, who allowed the ball to reach Ben Arfa beyond the far post.

His shot was instant and on-target, but not quite accurate enough to beat a goalkeeper of Joe Hart's calibre.

But only the positioning of Davide Santon, their Italian left-back, enabled Newcastle to be level at the interval.

Santon was in the right place on the line to block a 41st-minute shot from Gareth Barry at the end of an incisive move that again exposed Newcastle's problems against a team possessing City's sharpness in the final third.

It was a threat that hardly surfaced, however, at the start of the second half when City were far less impressive.

Tevez steered a shot straight at Krul in the 55th minute, but Newcastle were otherwise untroubled, prompting action by Mancini, who withdrew Nasri and Tevez.

And, only seconds after the departure of Tevez in the 70th minute, Mancini's team were ahead when Toure steered his shot inside the post from nearly 25 yards following neat approach play from City.

Toure was deprived of a second goal when he slipped after going clear in the 75th minute, but he grabbed the clincher with a close-range strike in the 89th minute after good work by Gael Clichy.

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